Developers and town officials broke ground on Surf City Crossing Monday. The 70,000 square foot shopping center isn't set to open till late next year, but excitement around the complex is already building. Despite empty storefronts at other strip malls in the region, the developers are confident about the new complex. “There are a lot of shopping centers today that may be struggling but if you build quality, in a quality location, with quality anchors, you're going to have a success,” said Ken Hocker of Weingarten Investors. One of those anchors for the new development will be a Harris Teeter supermarket. For locals, the high-end grocer is a sign of a bright future. “I think that it's saying that we're an up and coming community and it's the place to be, where you want to live,” said Pam Honeycutt of the Topsail Area Chamber of Commerce. With continued population growth expected for the Pender County beaches and a strong economic base the shopping center should draw plenty of customers. “It's just a tremendous market for retail, for business, for grocers and for restaurants,” Hocker said. The ground breaking for the Surf City Crossing not only speaks to the growth of the topsail area, but it also means more jobs for those who already live here. “The buzz word is j-o-b-s, jobs. We're told that we're looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of 100-plus jobs that will enable families to stay here, not travel for work,” said Surf City Mayor Zander Guy. During a time when the Pender County unemployment rate is more than 11-percent, residents will surely dig the idea of bringing more jobs to the area. The shopping center is only phase one of the complex. Once the retail space is completed the developers plan the build a luxury apartment complex right behind the new shops, but that ground breaking is still more than a year away.
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